Senior US commander in Ankara for talks on Syria, PKK
The vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld, responds to questions during an interview at his office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., on Jan. 25, 2011. (Photo: AP)
The vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld, arrived in Ankara early on Tuesday to meet with Turkish military and government officials for talks on security issues that reportedly focused on Syria and cooperation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Winnefeld was first scheduled to meet with Turkish Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar at the General Staff before talks with Feridun Sinirlioğlu, the Foreign Ministry undersecretary.
News reports said Winnefeld's talks focused on the fight against the PKK, particularly in regards to intelligence sharing against the terrorist group, and the situation in Syria.
US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, who spoke to the Ankara bureau chiefs of various Turkish news networks at a roundtable meeting last week, said the US and Turkish militaries are in contact to discuss all eventualities regarding Syria, including the establishment of a buffer zone.
“We consider everything. We are in close touch with Turkish authorities both bilaterally and in NATO. I can certainly assure you that our militaries, our military officers, are in contact. This week I know there is a special focus of our military experts talking about Syria. And what militaries do well is plan for every contingency and every eventuality,” he said. “No political decision has been made regarding buffer zones or no-fly zones. But if it ever became necessary, I think you can be confident that between Turkish power, and the combined power of Turkey and its allies, we could handle any situation that might arise militarily.”